Where did it all go wrong?
In September 2010, there was a notice from the water company taped to the door of McKinley’s house in Aurora, Colo., and rent that was past due. He had a court date to increase his child support payments. On crutches, with reality suffocating him, he got on a plane to South Carolina. He went to the clubs and walked the same streets he used to walk with Murdock and Thomas. He went to the Gamecocks’ Sept. 11 home game against Georgia. When his face appeared on the big screen, the crowd erupted in a standing ovation. McKinley soaked it in and waved. He was still the biggest star at Williams-Brice Stadium.
He stayed with Terrence Campbell, an offensive lineman for the Gamecocks at the time, and Campbell asked him to hang around in Columbia longer. It would be like old times. McKinley said he had to go. He told Campbell to get to work and focus on his season.
McKinley went back home to Georgia for a few days, watched his old high school team play a football game, then flew to Denver on Sept. 19. He paid his back rent, post-dated a check for October and chatted with his landlord’s 11-year-old son, a Broncos fan. McKinley went out that night, then slept in.
Sometime in the early-afternoon hours of Monday, Sept. 20, 2010, he pulled a sheet over himself, put a semiautomatic .45-caliber handgun to his head and squeezed the trigger. He was dead when police arrived at his house on Caley Place. The shades were drawn; the TV was on with the volume down low. McKinley died with the NFL Network on.
If you've got the time, we highly recommend you check out this story on the late Broncos WR Kenny McKinley and his pact with two college friends to make it in the NFL. It also gives a few more details about McKinley's relationshp with former Broncos QB Tom Brandstater, who emptied his bank account to help McKinley with his growing expenses. Finally, it paints a picture of a young man who struggled with the need for friendship, the desire for success, and the setbacks of life--in other words, with being human.